We Love Van!

Yesterday, Wahine and I made our first jaunt since the pandemic–a dash, really–to Vancouver for the day.

I really can’t say enough good about Vancouver. It was a beautiful, warm early Fall Sunday morning when we arrived in the English Bay neighborhood for breakfast at our beloved Red Umbrella. People were out strolling up and down Davie, many with their dogs.

This is not necessarily in universal contrast to Seattle, but… People were friendly. They looked relaxed, happy and healthy. Clerks and servers were eager and helpful. Passersby were dressed better. The city was clean. The freeways, bridges and streets were in good repair. Businesses–even service stations-- had restrooms for customers. Despite (what we had read about as Van’s) opioid epidemic, we saw no panhandlers and no homeless tent encampments. Even the dogs passing on the street outside were chill and socialized. For all the high-rise development in Van, there are still large swaths of varied single-story shops and restaurants, rather than unwelcoming, all-the-same mixed-use spaces.

Specific to dining, we were told that the Red Umbrella’s kitchen was running 45 minutes behind in getting food out. No one got bent or raised hell or stomped out, not because the food is great (It is), but because people were unhurredly relaxed. Patrons held the doors for each other, said “Excuse me” in a polite, appropriate, defensive way. And of course our breakfasts were excellent. Payment is at the counter here, with patrons doing the non-spoof version of “No, you first”, No, after you, I insist" routine.

Another reason for our quick trip was to replenish our stock of over-the-counter drugs that (senselessly) are unavailable in USA without a Rx–which means a $$ doctor visit. Easy-peasy, and the store’s cosmetics manager fell all over herself comping Wahine with an embarassingly generous supply of makeup and perfume samples.

We sure missed Van over the 3-years of pandemic and related closures. We drove home vowing to return soon to replenish our stores of humanity and social grace that pervade this beautiful city. Can anyone describe from experience the NEXXUS interview process, to get approved to across the border fast(er)? Thanks.


We were just talking about needing to get back to CA, having not been since pre pandemic. I’ll note your b’fast rec, and my kids will be thrilled to go back to Crystal Mall in Burnaby for some xlb and boba.

We just went through the nexus process this summer. Do you have an interview, or are you asking about the whole process. I can help, once I know what you need.

Well, we both applied about a year ago, paid, and were granted conditional approval. When we tried to schedule interviews, they weren’t being done in WA. Then we were informed that we had to enter Canada, and then on the return (during certain hours), we’d get sua sponte interviews. Of course if you can’t get into Canada in the fist place, that means no interviews.

Now that Canada has lifted restrictions on non-essential travel, quarantine, etc., I don’t mind jumping through these hoops. But it’d be nice to know what questions the in-person interviewer asked others, etc.

Incidentally, we stopped at Trader Joe’s in Bellingham on the way home, and I picked up an order of Pork Paad See-ew from Thai Maison for dinner. It was definitely good, but not outstanding. They used the same narrow noodles like in Paad Thai, and the dish lacked the smokiness and moisture that we appreciate. We’re going to try your recs.

I’ll message you. This is very different to my understanding.